Exit Options for Assistant District Attorney?

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Re: Exit Options for Assistant District Attorney?

Postby keg411 » Fri May 06, 2011 2:03 pm

I'm pretty sure white collar criminal defense is a biglaw think. A relative of mine who is a former AUSA and currently biglaw partner specializes in it.

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Re: Exit Options for Assistant District Attorney?

Postby leobowski » Fri May 06, 2011 3:23 pm

vanwinkle wrote:Regarding the thread itself:

The answer really depends on several factors, the largest of which is the district you're working in. New York County is going to have substantially better exit options than someone working in Podunk County, TX. From the biggest DA offices, you get better exit options in part because you're getting substantially greater trial experience, which is what makes you valuable. Someone in New York County is going to handle a hell of a lot of cases in a short amount of time, and after only a couple years you'll know how to handle a courtroom. Your best exit strategies are going to be places that want a lot of litigation experience. Sometimes people will jump to law firms, sometimes they'll go become an AUSA or a federal prosecutor, in some places they occasionally get appointed state judges.

The trial experience/caseload is actually pretty consistent across the board. The only exceptions are very remote locations and certain understaffed offices (e.g. Philly). The advantage in exit options comes from the fact that the most prestigious DAs get the best/brightest candidates to start with.

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Re: Exit Options for Assistant District Attorney?

Postby A'nold » Fri May 06, 2011 3:58 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
A'nold wrote:Let's see if I can bring this back on topic.

I talked to one of my professors (a former prosecutor) about exit options a few weeks ago. He said that one great niche option, which he called very lucrative, is defending doctors accused of Medicade fraud. This got me thinking about white collar criminal defense. While it seems like a cool field, I just wonder how you could ever get enough experience and knowledge in these kinds of cases to build a reputation w/out prosecuting for the feds or w/out moving very high up the ladder for the state. It guess it might be that your general experience as a prosecutor would go a long way to helping you make the transition, I just wonder what a white collar defense firm would think of that.

One thing you don't get in white collar defense is much experience in a courtroom, from what I've been told. A primary purpose of white collar defense is to keep cases out of court in the first place, and involves even more deal-making and attempts to resolve things pre-trial than you see in the typical criminal setting. Doctors are a great example; they'll want to avoid a criminal conviction related to their practice, so they'll want someone who knows how to prepare a sufficient defense and to negotiate well enough that they can convince prosecutors to make a deal that gets rid of the charges.

This means that people who have criminal trial experience can actually be valuable, because coming from a courtroom-heavy job, you're bringing experience you're not likely to develop quickly on the job but that is necessary to representing clients. These firms always have to be prepared for the possibility of going to trial and that means having people who can handle the whole trial process. Also, these kind of defense firms often like big-city prosecutors from what I understand, because if you know how to think like a prosecutor, then you know how to anticipate what a prosecutor would do and use that in negotiating and preparing the case.

Much like anywhere else, it's a matter of three different things: 1) your networking (which can include both your alumni network and connections you make while practicing, 2) the prestige of your current job position, and 3) your actual reputation as a lawyer. Again, New York County ADAs can probably make this move a lot more easily than people from much smaller DA offices. You can also try to work up to a position that handles a lot of high-profile cases, which will make you more appealing to employers later down the road.

It's one of those things where generally speaking you're not very likely to get such a job, but you can make it a lot more likely by doing the things that would make you attractive to a future employer.

That's good to hear about the white-collar defense firms liking those with general crim trial experience. Thanks for the info.

Like someone said above, I think it all depends on what area of a state/area of the country you are in as to whether or not you can move up to the "good cases" or to the feds. My professor told me that prosecutors often (relatively speaking) make the jump to the federal government after 5 or so years of experience. I also agree w/ the networking thing. I'm in a courthouse right now just observing and the judges, prosecutors, defense people, etc. all seem to know each other very well.

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